"Glowno" - Encyclopedia of Jewish
Communities in Poland, Volume I

51°58' / 19°44'

Translation of "Glowno" chapter
from Pinkas Hakehillot Polin

Published by Yad Vashem

Published in Jerusalem


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Morris Wirth

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This is a translation from: Pinkas Hakehillot Polin:
Encyclopedia of Jewish Communities, Poland, Volume I, pages 81- 84, published by Yad Vashem, Jerusalem

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(pages 81- 84 )

(District of Brzeziny)

Translated by Ada Holtzman

1.9.1939 (?)2,100

Table of Contents

I.The Jewish Community Until 1918
II.Between The Two World Wars
III.The Holocaust

The Jewish Community in Glowno until 1918

Town status was granted to Glowno in 1427, and it was lost in 1870.

In the second half of the 18th century, landowners of Glowno brought new settlers to the town, including Jews (a majority of the town's population until WWII). In 1793, there were 35 Jews among the 48 artisans. There were 5 bakers, a butcher, a jeweler, a tanner, 25 tailors, a furrier and a hatter. In the Jewish-owned tannery, 5 were employed. There was a Jewish barber and the local inn lessee was also a Jew. Also, 6 Jews were merchants.

The Jewish community became independent in 1822. A short time later, the following were built: a synagogue, Beth Midrash (house of learning), a Mikve (ritual bath) and a Hekdesh (shelter for the poor, sick and needy). The buildings were built on the land of the landowner (squire), who charged leasing fees until the beginning of the 1860s. The Community Committee was obliged to pay tax also to the local priest. The building costs, the leasing fees and other payments worsened the economic situation of the settlement. In addition, Glowno suffered from a cholera epidemic and a fire which broke out in 1848. In that fire the Beth Midrash and the Mikve were severely damaged. The costs of rebuilding the burned buildings and private homes were a financial burden on all the residents. A few well established families governed the Community Committee in those years while serving for up to six periods. This led to conflicts among the Jews and stirred up the public, too.

Among the rabbis of Glowno in the second half of the 19th century, one should note Michail Pacanowski. Another distinguished figure was Rabbi Eliahu Laskowski, a disciple of the Admor (Hassidic Rabbi) of Sochaczew; who was previously the rabbi of Tuliszkow. From 1908-1920 he served as the rabbi of Glowno and then he moved to Warta. Rabbi E. Laskowski excelled as a gifted Magid (story teller) and erected some Yeshivot (Talmudical colleges). During the Holocaust, he was hung in a public execution by the Nazis. After him, Rabbi Icchak Pacanowski and Rabbi Elimelech Szapira served as the rabbis of Glowno, and they perished in the Holocaust.

During the First World War, the first political organizations were founded in Glowno. In May 1917, a general meeting was assembled and the foundation of the Zionist federation was declared. At the same time, Hamizrachi (the religious Zionist Movement) started its activities. Also, the 1918 election to the community committee already had political competition.

Between the Two World Wars

Nearly all Jewish political parties in Poland were represented in Glowno. This is supported by the results of the elections to the Zionist Congress. Zionim Haklaliim (Al Hamishmar) won 37 votes in 1937 and 37 again in 1939. Hamizrachi got 60 votes (1937) and 23 (1939); the League for Working Israel won 51 votes (1937) and 78 votes (1939). Agudat Israel and the Bund were also active in Glowno.

During the elections in 1924 to the city counsel, 5 Jewish parties participated and won together 6 seats out of a total of 12. In the elections of 1927, there was one list of the Jewish nationalist front, which consisted of the General Zionists, Hamizrachi, Agudat Israel. The Craftsmen Association and "House - Owners without a party" (there are no results of these elections).

During the 1930s the economic situation of the Jews worsened in Glowno. A fire that destroyed 10 Jewish homes in 1936 added to the situation. Also, 28 families remained homeless. In the same year, some heads of the household, previously coachmen, remained without a source of living. They founded a bus company which served the Warsaw [Warszawa]-Lodz line and the holiday resorts around Glowno. The company developed well, but, in the anti-Semitic atmosphere which prevailed then, the Polish authorities cancelled the license of the company.

Because of the declining economic conditions in Glowno, the Community Committee didn't open a "Tarbut" school in 1936, as planned.

On May 31, 1936, there were riots in Glowno that almost developed into a pogrom. The incident started when 7 instigators left a dance in the firemen hall and attacked Jews who were passing by the hall. The police, who were alerted, arrested one of the attackers. Then, about 150-200 people gathered and tried to free the detainee. A street fight developed and the police finally managed to control the mob. Six of the instigators were put on trial and were jailed for 4-8 months.

The Holocaust

During the first days of the Glowno occupation, on September 13 and 15, 1939, the Nazis executed six Jews. In January 1940, part of the Polish population participated in pogroms. They did so in spite of the objection of the priest and some Poles. The Jewish cemetery was desecrated, trees were cut and tombstones were removed.

Until the erection of the Ghetto (April 1940) hundreds of Jews came to Glowno -- refugees and displaced people from other towns and from the Warthegau (the region which was annexed to the Reich). Glowno, which was part of the General Government, was a border town between these the General Government and the Warthegau. Most of the deportees arrived without any possessions. Sometimes, they were ordered to leave the town within 24 hours. Some left and continued their wanderings. Others remained in spite of the decree, and they settled in the suburbs and mainly in the summer resorts: "Nowy Otwock", "Zakopane" and "Warchalow". In January 1940 there were already 2700 deported Jews from Konstantynow, Brzeziny, Zgierz and Aleksandrow (near Lodz).

In 1940 more Jews arrived from various places. By July 1940, the number of Jews had increased to 5602. In the next couple of months, the number of Jews decreased by approximately by 400 due to deportations to forced labour camps. In December 1940 the number of Jews was 5220.

On Passover, 5700 (1940), the refugees experienced many hours of terror. On April 5th, a decree was published ordering the Jews to leave town immediately. The Judenrat tried to help, but failed. Then they designated for the deportation the poorest Jews, already a burden on the community. On April 8, 1940, while there were carts ready to take the 400 Jews, the Judenrat managed to have the decree rescinded. On April 18, 1940, a rumor was spread that all refugees were allowed to go back to their hometowns. Some Jews even explained that the liberal order meant the war was about to end. But on the following day, a decree was published that called for 2000 refugees to go to the market square, fully ready to leave Glowno. At the same time, the police closed all roads leading out of town. Some hostages were taken and the Germans threatened to kill them if the decree wasn't obeyed. Some of the refugees managed to run out to the surrounding neighborhood. The Jews of Glowno were angry towards the refugees, and they blamed them for the increased prices for food. Some started to remove refugees from the houses, discover their hiding places and drag them to the market square. In the end, they gathered 2000 refugees, and the hostages were released. The German policemen directed the carts to Strykow. The chairman of the Judenrat followed them, equipped with food and beverage.

They planned to stay one night in Strykow and to return the following day to their own places. So, they all crowded themselves in the synagogue to spend the night. In the morning of April 21, the Germans threatened to execute all the men. Some of the Jews were injured during shootings. Afterwards, they were driven back to Glowno. Near Glowno, the Nazis imprisoned half of the refugees in a building which had served as a factory in the past. The rest of the refugees managed to escape and return to the town. The camp in the factory was watched by the Volksdeutche. Also, the Judenrat sent food to the prisoners. The Jews, Fass and Szer, known in town as "Machers" (important people) negotiated with the Germans. In return for a large bribe, most of the prisoners were released. Only the poorest remained; they were supported by the property left behind in the camp. After a while, the Germans dispersed the inhabitants of the camp.

In the spring of 1940, rumors spread about a plan to erect a Ghetto. The Judenrat collected a large sum of money to cancel the decree, but nothing helped, and on April 7 a notice was published by the head of Lowicz region. In the beginning the authorities were about to set up the ghetto in the suburbs of Swoboda and Cichorajka. However, because of the opposition of the Poles who lived there, the summer resort outside of town was chosen ("Nowy Otwock").

The ghetto in Glowno was officially established as of May 12, 1940. It encompassed four streets and 60 summerhouses – one-floor wooden houses, not suitable for living in the winter. The perimeter of the ghetto was surrounded by wire fence with only one gate. Jewish policemen watched it. The Polish watchman was positioned at the gate (only at daytime) and he didn't interfere with what was happening. There was nearly no interference with contact outside the Ghetto.

The Judenrat was allowed to distribute freely licenses to leave the ghetto to go to the town or the village. The Jewish policemen controlling the gate rarely checked the licenses. With the help of a bribe, the relationship with the Germans and the police was regulated. Because of the easy contact with the Poles, the Jews continued to make a living from crafts and commerce. Some of the craftsmen worked in town - in the sewing workshop and the carpentry shops of the German police. The poor people among the population made a living from black market commerce and smuggling. The Jews of Glowno even traveled to Warsaw [Warszawa]for their trade.

Food supplies were usually sufficient; and the prices were nearly the same as those outside the ghetto. The Jewish butchers cut the fence at night and let cows inside for slaughter. Their endless quarrels echoed in the ghetto (groups of butchers informed on each other to the German police), and also the Jewish policemen claimed that the Jews did not repair the fence and did not pay the requested bribe (in money or meat). The Jewish fish merchants maintained a connection to Skierniewice. Once a week, a cart fully loaded with fish went there; the fish were kept in crates which were thrown into the river running inside the ghetto. The peasants used to bring full carts up to the gate even though it was forbidden to bring food to the ghetto. There was plenty of white flour available. The bakers baked "Hallahs" (special bread prepared for the Sabbath) and white bread, with the pretext that this is an order from the hospital.

Some more "liberties" were typical in this ghetto. On Rosh Hashana 5701 (September 1940) the authorities allowed a "shtibel" (small synagogue) to open for prayers. Once a week a football game took place in the ghetto between a youth team of the ghetto and the local Polish groups; entry permits to the Ghetto for the Poles were given by the head of the region.

The Judenrat was appointed by the end of 1939. The chairman was Abram Rosenberg and 6 men from the merchants (only 2 names are known: Klecki and Baumarder). In the beginning there were 20 policemen in the Jewish police, and the numbers increased to 45 during the years of the ghetto. The Jewish police had 3 sections and serving as their heads were the following: a coachman, a merchant, and the son of the chairman of the Judenrat. In the house that served the administration and the Jewish police, there was also a room to keep the detainees.

Fass and Szer wanted to acquire influence in the Jewish administration. According to some versions, they were "schemers" already before the war. Some said they were detectives, and during the Nazi regime they became "machers" and witty bribers. The presumption was that they informed the Germans on the rich Jews and pointed out the hidden properties. Some said that they intended to remove Rosenberg, the chairman of the Judenrat, and because of this, they defamed him to the authorities.

In spite of reasonable conditions in Glowno, there were poor people among Glowno residents before the war and among the refugees. The Joint in Warsaw supplied them with money, food and clothing. A popular kitchen was founded; it supplied 500-1300 meals a day. From time to time food supplies, clothes, shoes and financial aid were distributed to the poor. The Joint appointed in Glowno a representative of its own and also selected the working team at the kitchen. Conflict between the Joint and the Judenrat continued constantly. The Joint wanted to run the welfare activities independently and with men that they chose. As time passed by, the contributions of money and supplies from Warsaw stopped. Both the appeal for contributions and the taxes imposed on the rich had little success raising money. In October 1940, the Judenrat assumed control of the kitchen. On Friday and Saturday few came to the kitchen, as even the poorest managed to prepare meals for themselves during these days. The distribution of food supplies, clothes, shoes and financial aid continued.

Health services in the ghetto were provided for free to the poor; affluent men paid for their own health care. The only doctor in the ghetto, Dr. Szmirgeld, received his salary from the Judenrat. The small hospital in the ghetto was a wooden summerhouse, and it included rooms for the sick, an improvised pharmacy and a clinic. The equipment was very poor; the sick were hospitalized but received no treatment because of the scarcity of doctors and public health workers. Also, medicines were sent there by the Joint and the T.O.Z.* from Warsaw. In a later period, the Polish physician, Dr. Mierzewski , was appointed. Also, he received his salary from the Judenrat, enjoyed the patronage of the German authorities, and had a lot of influence on the ghetto. Dr. Mierzewski improved the conditions, moved the hospital to a house made of stone and ordered dietetic food for the needy. He immunized the population against typhus and managed to overcome this illness in the ghetto.

Sanitation problems were overwhelming, and filth was found everywhere. There were overflowing crates of garbage and a shortage of toilet facilities. The sanitation committee with 20 public health workers was not able to improve the situation. German health authorities frequently visited and hunted for Jews. They forced Jews to wash in unheated houses, cut the hair of women and requested bribes. The situation improved a little when the Judenrat employed groups of workers to clear the garbage. Also, the Jewish police began arresting people because of waste found in their shops, the bakeries and the area.

The inhabitants of the ghetto were sent to hard forced labour in the neighbouring farms. The labour department of the Judenrat was obliged to supply working teams for other jobs in the town. In addition, Germans acting alone or the police hunted Jews from time to time to transport them for forced labour. Beginning in August 1940, the deportations to forced labour camps started. Because of their fear of being deported, the youngsters used to hide in the forest and the near-by villages. They returned after the danger was finished. The Jewish and the German policemen hunted people who were in hiding.

News arrived about the horrible conditions in the forced labour camps in the Lublin district (where the Jews of Glowno were). The Judenrat appointed in the autumn of 1940 a committee aimed to collect contributions for these Glowno Jews. In October, the chairman of the Judenrat, Rosenberg, and another member, Baumarder, left for the Lublin district with the money which was collected. While they were unable to reach the camps themselves, they delivered the money in a round-about way. It is possible that the representatives of the Jews went to Lublin on another occasion. Only very few returned from those camps and they were shadows of their former selves.

Other problems occurred in the ghetto, too. On September 27, 1940, a fire consumed houses which belonged previously to the Jews. Even though it was probably a provocation, the Jews were blamed for it. The Germans imprisoned 20 in the jail in Lowicz. The ghetto was surrounded by the police, the gate was closed and exit permits were canceled. A shortage of food prevailed. The Germans fenced the ghetto again in a rectangular shape. The German orders were to move wire from one place to another and omit curves which smugglers could use. Three houses, previously within the borders of the ghetto, were now outside of the ghetto borders. Those displaced were given apartments (re-settled), and this caused problems among the Jews. As time passed, the exit permits were renewed. But, the hostages remained locked out. On December 8, 1940, after many pleas by the Judenrat, the hostages were released. The German police requested 5 writing cabinets for them.

The order of the German police (February 10, 1941) to return all the exit permits signaled the beginning of the ghetto liquidation. The Jewish policemen searched the ghetto and the surrounding villages for all the holders of permanent exit permits. Since all the permits were not returned, the German police took as hostages the chairman of the Judenrat and his 3 comrades. They were released after a short time. As the news spread about the deportation of all the Jews from the border district between the General Government and the Reich, the Judenrat started to get ready for the transfer of the population. The rich moved to Warsaw on their own initiative and with personal vehicles, which they hired. Anarchy prevailed in the ghetto; the Judenrat fought with the Jewish police; stocks of food were stolen. The Poles entered the ghetto and bought the Jewish property for pennies. The German policemen took what they wanted at will.

On February 28, 1941, the German police announced the deportation via carts scheduled for the following day. Prior to this deportation, Jews and their belongings were to be disinfected. However, there were still Jews in Glowno until March 18, 1940.

The last week of their stay in the ghetto was full of menaces and deadly persecutions if they would not leave the town quickly. They were expelled from street to street and house to house, and the ghetto borders continued to shrink. Jews were kidnapped in the streets and transported to Warsaw. Rosenberg, the chairman of the Judenrat, went to Warsaw in a convoy of 20 sick people. A small number of the craftsmen from Glowno were transported to Lowicz. There, they worked for sometime for the Germans with a group of local craftsmen until all the Jews of Lowicz were transported to Ghetto of Warsaw.


* TOZ --- The Polish initials for “Towarzystwo Ochrony Zdrowia” [Ludnosci Zydowskej]. It was in Poland between WWI and WWII. This was both a Jewish Health and Welfare Organization. Return

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